Despite its F1 team being practically useless, Toyota is aiming to join the world’s top echelon of supercar manufacturers with the Lexus LF-A.
Revised LF-A good for 350km/h?
The Oriental supercar raced at the Nurburgring 24hr this weekend.
Competing in the essentially stock S8 class, it finished behind Aston Martin’s Vantage and an Audi RS4, yet the LF-A lapped consistently, clocking a few 7 minute 13 second times, and finishing the race without mechanical issues. Well, okay, the one LF-A did catch fire, but...
Racing at the Nurburgring was a key juncture in validating the LF-A’s development cycle, which has been a little longer than anticipated, as engineers endeavoured to broach the hallowed 200 mph (320km/h) barrier.
What the production car will look like is still a mystery, as the race cars neatly disguised any styling detail clues with obligatory sponsor logos. The production LF-A will wrap a different sheet metal form over the racer’s chassis and drivetrain, proportions though - should be quite similar.
Expect the road going LF-A to be an evolution from the show car which debuted at Detroit in 2007. Back then Lexus was very excited about the possibility of LF-A being capable of 320km/h. How expectations have risen since then...
LF-A has seen significant aerodynamic fettling since 2007 though. In an attempt to raise top speed from 320km/h to a supercar worthy 350km/h, Lexus LF-A engineers have been subjected to a rigorous routine of wind tunnel testing and engine tuning.
The car's development cycle has been so intense - with Lexus management sending the design back for re-engineering a few times - it makes one wonder if some of the F1 team's technical staff have not been working on the LF-A instead of Toyota's F1 race cars.
When fully homologated, LF-A will find itself in the rarefied company of Ferrari’s Enzo, Lamborghini’s Murcielago LP640 and Pagani’s Zonda F when it to comes to market early in 2010, the global economic crises notwithstanding.
The production LF-A is expected to make a patriotic debut at the Tokyo
motor show in October, which should shore up an event
currently losing exhibitors at an alarming rate.
LF-A is designed to be a thoroughbred supercar, right through from its 4.8l V10 engine producing a touch over 400kW, to the transaxle mounted, six-speed semi-automatic transmission.
Keen to keep residuals depreciation-proof for decades to come – and keep cars out of the hands of Japanese tuners – Lexus will allegedly limit the entire LF-A production run to only 500 cars, as befits a car worthy of true supercar status…